This is the third trip to Ecuador that my boyfriend and I have taken. Every time we travel there we discover new cities to explore and towns they haven’t mentioned on the travel channel. Our original plan was to go to Montanita, a town I’ve been wanting to visit since I’ve heard tales of the little surfer village. Then head to Canoa a town I’ve heard about from my parents International Living magazine. However a week is hardly enough time to explore Ecuador unless you have all your plans mapped out and accommodations booked, which we never seem to do. Winging it is part of the fun, everyone knows that. So the towns we visited this time around were Montanita and Puerto Lopez.
Upon landing in Guayaquil we immediately trekked to the bus terminal to begin our four hour or so journey to Montanita, who gained its name from the tiny mountains surrounding the area. I was told Montanita is a beautiful place with surfing (in my past life I was a surfer in California) with delicious seafood and sandy beaches filled with perfect waves for the tanned surfers. Montanita is indeed a beautiful place, very quaint with hostels on every corner and block. Right now is beach season so naturally the place was overflowing with tourist from Argentina and nomad hippies living the good life.
There are tons of places to eat I had the best pollo a la brasa in my life. Talented craftsman/women lined the streets and shared tales of their trips to the Amazon to gather materials intended to create beautiful pieces to sell. As far as handmade items this is my kind of place to buy unique items. Every vacation I go on I make sure I find a handmade item or indigenous piece from that specific area.
The weather was iffy with the sun coming out in the middle of the afternoon almost making you wish its scorching rays never peeked out of the clouds. I’m super tanned since being in Ecuador and peeling at this moment; apparently spf 50 didn’t do the trick. If you aren’t into surfing the only other activities to do in Montanita is parasail (which I finally had to chance to do there) , zip line and party hard. By the third day of barely any sleep from being sick (yes I got sick again), the party people who broke daylight and the loud thumping music, I was longing for a beach with less “spring breakers” and more locals, maracuya (passion fruit) shakes and peace & quiet.
Through word of mouth we heard about Puerto Lopez a sleepy fishing village one hour bus ride north of Montanita. Puerto Lopez was a nice change of pace and was everything I thought Montanita was going to be. I felt at ease at the first sight of the fishing boats that scattered the water and we immediately hit the beach which showcased views of mountains and locals of the area.
In the evenings the sun broke behind the main mountain creating beautiful peach and blue sunsets, I was in heaven. Seafood is in abundance in Puerto Lopez due to the plethora of fishing done and fruit juice stands line the streets making juice from any fruit you could imagine.
Los Frailes is another amazing beach we visited the next morning, a protected beach that used to be $2 to enter but is now free. You could take a motor-taxi and be there in ten to fifteen minutes. This beach can be compared to beaches in Cancun with blue waters and soft sand. We felt like we were transported to that movie called “The Beach” it was absolutely gorgeous. The beach closes at 4pm so its best you go early, bring food and water and make sure u take your basura (garbage) with you when you go.
Canoa and Esmerldas are two other towns that will have to be explored on our next trip to Ecuador. At this time in our lives we can’t afford the luxury of a “hippy lifestyle” but giving it all up and finishing our journey in Ecuador sounds just about right, as I type at my desk looking at the snow outside my window.
Places to stay in Montanita:
Hanga Roa Hostel
Balsa Surf Camp
and in Puerto Lopez: